Why is strength training so important? What are the benefits to incorporating strength training into my workout routine? What are some examples of strength training?
There are many benefits to strength training:
- Incorporating strength training into your workout routine can help apply necessary stress on your bones to increase your bone’s density, while reducing your risk for osteoporosis*.
- Reduces your risk of other chronic conditions and diseases, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes.
- Improves your quality of life – protecting your joints from injury, better balance to help reduce the risk of falling, and aiding in the maintenance of independence as we age.
- Assists in weight management and weight loss. Strength training can help increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories.
There are many choices when it comes to strength training:
- Body weight – exercises that require little to no additional equipment. Try things like push-ups, pull-ups, planks, lunges, and squats. Body weight exercises are a great place to start. It allows you to work on foundational movements to ensure proper form and technique to reduce the risk of injury.
- TRX suspension trainer – TRX stands for Total body Resistance eXercise. Suspension training is a method of exercise that utilizes your body weight and gravity as resistance to build strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, core and joint stability.
- Free weights – equipment like barbells and dumbbells are great tools to use when strength training, added resistance allows you to work on muscular strength* and muscular endurance*.
- Weight machines – equipment that helps reduce the risk of over or under-extending the joints. Weights machines can help you acclimate to proper form and technique to ensure appropriate range of motion.
- Cable machines – cable machines are a pully system designed to allow you to pull up, down, and outward while keeping constant tension. Benefits of using cable machines is that there is no direct load on the body, it is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment, and it can be used for all fitness levels.
- Weight training classes – there are many classes at the Bangor Region YMCA which involve strength training and the use of weights. For example: Group Power is a one-hour, cutting-edge strength training workout designed to get you muscle strong AND movement strong. It combines traditional strength training with full-body, innovative exercises using an adjustable barbell, weight plates, body weight, The STEP, heart-pounding music, and expert coaching.
Ultimately, strength training is something that everyone should be doing, however, there are considerations to make to ensure that your workout is safe and effective. Here are some tips to consider:
- Make sure to warm-up before exercising and cool-down after exercising. Warming up can include dynamic stretching, walking, or light cardio to get the muscles prepared for work ahead. Cooling down can include more static stretching.
- Focus on your form and technique first, not weight. Take the time to properly align your body and move slowly and smoothly through each exercise to ensure control. Poor form can inhibit your progress in and outside of the gym, while increasing your risk for injuries.
- Be mindful of your breathing when performing your strength exercises. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release. For example, in a push-up we inhale as we lower and exhale as we push our body back up.
- Exercise progression is critical in strength training. An exercise progression is a simple way to make an exercise more challenging. Exercise progressions help to provide stimulus to your muscles, allowing you to see and feel changes in your body and with your level of fitness. To ensure you are maintaining and increasing your muscular strength and/or endurance, you will want to slowly increase the weights you are using, or even move on to more challenging exercise options.
- Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
- Rest and recover! Giving your muscles time off is critical to prevent injury and ensure effectiveness in your training. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session
If you are someone who is looking for guidance, detailed and methodical workouts, accountability, motivation, and support – inquire about personal training. Personal training is at an additional cost to your membership, but if you are able to afford it, it is a wonderful service to take advantage of. Our Certified Personal Trainers are here to help you get started and reach your goals.
If interested in more information, please email Travis Mitton, Fitness and Health Manager.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.
Muscular strength is the amount of force you can put out or the amount of weight you can lift.
Muscular endurance refers to the ability of a muscle to sustain repeated contractions against resistance for an extended period of time.